Tuna fetches 74 mil. yen at possible final Tsukiji New Year’s auction

A bluefin tuna fetched 74.2 million yen (around $632,000), or 350,000 yen per kilogram, at what may be the final New Year’s auction at Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji fish market before its relocation to a new site.

The price of the 212-kilogram tuna from Oma, Aomori Prefecture, is the second-highest for the market’s year-opening auction since 1999, the first year for which such records are available.

The winner was Tokyo-based sushi restaurant chain operator Kiyomura Corp., which remained the successful bidder for the sixth consecutive year at the market’s New Year auctions, including 2013, when it paid a record 155.4 million yen for a bluefin tuna.

“It was a bit expensive,” said Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the operator of the Sushizanmai restaurant chain, on this year’s auction.

“I want everyone to taste the delicious tuna,” he said with a smile after what could be the last year-opening auction at Tsukiji, one of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks and tourist attractions.

The Tokyo metropolitan government decided in 2001 to relocate the Tsukiji market to a new site in nearby Toyosu, citing concerns about the age of the current facility and its limited space. But toxic substances including benzene were found in the soil at the Toyosu site, which used to be a gas production plant.

After conducting decontamination work at the new site, the metropolitan government decided to relocate the market to Toyosu last November. But newly elected Gov. Yuriko Koike last August postponed the relocation amid lingering concerns about soil and air pollution at the new site.

She has said the relocation will not take place at least until the winter later this year.

“The relocation date has yet to be decided and we’re still uncertain,” said Nobuyuki Aoki, president of seafood wholesaler Daito Gyorui Co. on Thursday. “We want to get out of this limbo,” he said.

Kumiko Suda, a 57-year-old woman from western Japan city of Yamaguchi who visited the market for sightseeing, said, “Tsukiji is bustling and unique. There may be a problem, like being old, but I wonder if there is really no way to keep the market here.”


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